Today’s tip, relatively short, will hopefully give you a few other places to look if you don’t have a census for a particular year … of course, all your ancestors were on that census! It is difficult, if you live out of the area of research, to access many records that are “off the beaten path.” This would mean sources that might not be thought of as a place where your family’s names could be found. Thankfully, with a good researcher in the area or by letting your fingers do the walking through the internet, it is getting easier.
Listed below are some other locations where you might find information. I cannot guarantee that all of these records are available in all counties. I will make comments on a few.
TAX RECORDS. We have covered checking the tax records previously. But add to this list personal property taxes, the 1863 income tax, 1798 property taxes, real estate taxes, personal property taxes, assessor’s list and others.
LAND RECORDS. We already know to check the deed books, but you might also consider: plat maps, land lotteries, processioning list [resurveying the land due to a land dispute, lost property line markers or to divide the land of a deceased], quit rents, land grant lists, headright claims, immigrant land allowances, heir lists. Processioner’s reports are found in the County Clerk’s office, disputes over land distribution can be found in Circuit Court records and in County Court records after an order has been given.
COURT RECORDS: Oaths of allegiance, lists of attorneys, lists of constables, juror lists, jury pay lists, jury attendance lists, officials’ commissions, Justice of the Peace appointments, gamekeeper lists. Most of these would be found in the County Clerk’s office.
ROAD RECORDS: Petitions for the establishment of a road or change in course of a road, plats of the roads showing residents along the road, annual road reports on conditions of roads. These would be kept in the County Clerk’s office. Normally, every year in earlier years, each road was checked to see that the road was being kept clear, if it needed widening, abandoned or changed. A individual who normally lived along that road was put in charge and his “hands” were others who also lived along the road. The “Roads Books” lists where the road laid, the supervisor and all the hands.
MILITIA RECORDS: Militia lists (especially helpful during the Civil War as not all men served in the actual units), muster rolls (normally held monthly during the Civil War), payrolls, enlistments, enrollments, recruit lists, lists of rejected men, casualty rolls. Many of these records are available now on line for World War I and II – enrollment cards which show name, age, date of birth, physician description, nearest relative and employer. Some County Clerk’s offices have muster rolls for the Civil War. Older records for the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 can be found on line and many times, the County Clerk’s office has a list. Many of these records have been transcribed into book format.
VOTER’S RECORDS: Voter’s registration, lists, poll books, list of intended voters, lists of freeholders, oaths of office, loyalty oaths. These would be found in the County Clerk’s office.
CHURCH RECORDS: Pew rents (in many larger churches, the pews were rented), membership lists, collection lists, subscription lists, pauper lists. Many church minute books have been transcribed and are wonderful in finding family. Some churches listed all the deaths, births and marriages; some made passing mention of the same. All include extensive membership lists giving frequently the date the individual joined, when he left and why and some showing where they went.
SCHOOL RECORDS: Matriculation lists, attendance lists, tuition lists, pupil lists, school census records, teacher lists. These records, if available, are found in either the County Clerk’s office or the Board of Education. The short-lived school census records of the late 1890s include the name of the parent and/or guardian, name of child and age, along with the school district where they attended.
MISCELLANEOUS: City directories, prisoner registers, slave lists, lists of free Negroes, prisoners of war lists, manumission lists, orphan’s register, physicians & midwives registers. City directories are available for larger towns and are housed in the public library with other copies to be found in the larger historical societies. Some prisoner records are on-line and I have posted some of these in the past. Slave censuses were kept for two censuses, 1850 and 1860.
I hope this will be of help; as previously indicated, some of these records will not be available for every county, or may be known by other names.
© 22 January 2009, Sandra K. Gorin.